Procrastination is the thief of time. Just take a minute to really appreciate that.
Procrastination is like a pet, a bad habit that you willingly feed and not just with that cheap dry pet food, you’re taking it out for steak and lobster and that fancy wine that doesn’t just say ‘wine’ on the bottle. Just imagine taking all your free time and dumping it into a little silver bowl on the floor only for some gremlin like creature to inhale and shit back out all over the walls. That’s procrastination. It’s major ugs and it doesn’t end well.
For those unfamiliar with the psychological workings of procrastination, the cliff notes version is this – you do the stuff that makes you feel good now, even though you know it’ll affect you negatively in the future. Procrastination is basically the Loki to Thor’s delayed gratification. You ever wonder why doing laundry, cleaning your room or writing a piece on procrastination all seem to become so much more interesting than that thing you should be doing? Gratification, that’s why! Why feel good later when you can feel good now!
The thing is, your brain isn’t very good at planning ahead, it’s really only concerned about the ‘you’ in the here and now – it sees ‘future you’ as someone else that’ll have to deal with all the problems ‘present you’ creates – even though we all know they’re both the same person. Confusing I know, but sometimes you really are your own worst enemy.
One of the best ways to beat procrastination is to understand it; knowledge is power and all that.
Sure, sitting in and o.d.-ing on Parks & Rec, pizza and 30 Rock is great fun now, but what about when future you is stressing while trying to pull an all-nighter to get that paper handed in or revising for that test? What about when future you gets your grade back and it totally sucks? The only thing you’re going to feel then is bad. There’s nothing worse than getting a shitty grade when you know you are capable of much better.
Changing the way you think about your work can help; don’t think of it as an assignment, think of it as a way to show how much you know and why you’re better at it than everyone else. Who doesn’t love a chance to show off? Especially when it makes you look oh so intelligent! (Don’t lie, you do like showing off and you know it.)
Try not to think about the entire assignment either, break it down. Do little bits at a time; it’s so much easier working on something when you know that you’re not trying to start and finish it all at once.
Do some reading; make some notes, write down a few ideas. Plan your work. Keep it manageable. You’d be surprised at just how much easier it is to write a paper or report when you’ve done the research in advance and not just 10 minutes before you start writing. Once you’re ready to start typing up that bad boy, divide the number of words of your assignment by the number of days you’ve got left – that’s how many words you need to be doing a day, at least – but you’ll probably find that once you’re on a roll you’ll exceed your minimum daily word count. Yaaay!
Make sure you reward yourself for being good and doing your work – no one else will. Treat yo self. (Note: Telling people you’re doing work while you’re really just refreshing Facebook & Tumblr every five seconds does not deserve a reward. There I said it. As much I would dry-hump Tumblr’s leg, it will not help you get your degree.)
Think about everything you’ll get back from putting in a decent amount of work. Think of all those happy feels and warm fuzzies you’ll get when you see your grade, think of the pride and sense of accomplishment, go on, be a smug bastard, you deserve this. You earned it. Just think of all the feels when your parents and grandmother ask about your assignments and you can tell them you aced it. “Oh well done, have some free money for being so fantastic and smart”. It’s win/win.
Try and relate the work you’re doing now to your end goal, but just know that you get out what you put in. Don’t be one of those people who are capable of achieving greatness but settles for average; you do yourself a disservice. Show everyone how amazing you are.
Most importantly, pour that cup of coffee, unwrap that bar of chocolate and crack open that book harder than a Kinder Surprise. Take pleasure in all that knowledge and revel in how great it feels to learn something knew. (And just think about how amazing it’ll feel when you get to casually drop that infobomb into a casual pub conversation – unless you’re studying something like maths or geography, no one cares about that stuff.)
Remember, everyone procrastinates at some point or another, some people are just better at controlling it than others. Just keep thinking about the end result and how you’re slowly building towards it. Also, try and remember this; it’s impossible to give every piece of work your 100%, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try. Be the best there is at what you do.
1. Break up your task into manageable bits.
2. Reward yourself for completing said tasks.
3. Have amazing feels because you’re now great at assignments even though you’re a total failure at everything else in life.
About the Author:
Graeme Carson is a 25 year old “mature” student studying for an undergraduate BSc (Hons) in psychology at Bournemouth University, England. He is quick to point out that he is not actually English, but Irish or Northern Irish, he isn’t sure and it’s still quite confusing even to him. He has a Macbook Pro and an 80gb iPod which can only actually hold 9gb of music.
Graeme likes science in general, and comics. You can find him on Twitter.